In addition to enjoying my mother’s home cooking, I also managed to get out while I was in Montreal.  In all, I visited nine restaurants over the course of my stay.  No favorites like Au Pied de Cochon or Garde Manger this time, and still no luck getting a table at either Kitchenette or Joe Beef, but I did get to check out a few new places in addition to paying others a return visit.

So, how were they?  Well, some disappointed while others surprised.  Still others – well, they were pretty much what I expected.

Counting them down…

9. PETINOS (Dollard-Des-Ormeaux)

I purposely avoided calling this a Worst to First list because, in truth, I didn’t visit any bad restaurants.  On this trip, they ranged from okay to terrific.  Petinos finds itself on the bottom mostly owing to the fact that I simply don’t like breakfast places. If I really want eggs, I can just make them at home and, quite honestly, I’ve never gone somewhere and said “Wow! I’ve really got to come back for these eggs!”. Having said that, Petinos offers more than eggs.  Much, much more.  My sister, for instance, had the nutella-banana crepe which was good – though, again, I’d argue something I could just as readily make at home.  I had a fine omelet.


Another breakfast place but this one rates a little higher owing to the dish I ordered: a couple of poached eggs, blueberry pancakes, and creton.  The latter is a grey Quebecois “pork spread” that, frankly, doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as it sounds (and thats being kind).  The eggs and pancake, on the other hand, were good.


The Tuscan chicken liver

All of my fellow diners seemed to enjoy this restaurant a lot more than I did.  I suppose if I’d limited myself to the Tuscan chicken liver starter (two portions – sweet, salty, and a  touch of bitter – served in rustic fashion) this restaurant would have rated higher.  However, I ordered the breaded veal cutlet which turned out to be a huge disappointment.  Instead of golden crisp, its breading was moist, fell off in clumps, and tasted of bad oil.


Sushi assortment

Back when I lived in Montreal, I loved going out for sushi.  Then, I moved to Vancouver (and, later, visited Japan) and discovered how truly great sushi could be. On subsequent visits to Montreal, I returned to some of my old haunts and discovered the truth: sushi in Montreal pales in comparison.  This, I think, forces them to be more creative in their roll making, combining such diverse, occasionally odd, ingredients as fish, fruit, vegetables, and sundry sauces.

A nice place with inspired rolls; above-average by Montreal sushi standards.


The seafood red curry

I used to love this place back when I lived in Montreal and, while I still enjoyed a good meal here on this visit (some 15 years since my move), it didn’t quite hold the same appeal this time out.  Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me, but I seem to recall this place being a little more upscale, the dishes a little more refined.  Still, it was a very good dinner and Akemi, in particular, enjoyed the red curry – which she ended up sipping at meal’s end (but regretting later that night).


Pork belly and crispy oyster in spicy broth with shitake mushrooms, carrots, and cherries.
Lobster cavetelli with black trumpet mushrooms, squash, lardons, and burrata cheese.

My friend, Tom, raved about this place and rated it his favorite on HIS last trip to Montreal, so I was very eager to try it out.  The service was excellent and the dishes were inspired, almost outstanding – if not for the fact that almost all of them were overly salted.



My preferred place for smoked meat is this little spot on the West Island.  I always order it medium (not too lean and not too fatty) and it never disappoints.  The fries on this day, however, were a little greasy.

2. 400 COUPS

Nova Scotia trout with yogurt foam, beets, crabapple, and basil.
Crispy chiffon cake with sea buckthorn (?) and peach sorbet.

Similar to Bouillon Bilk in terms of the creativity on the plate, 400 Coups gets the edge on this trip owing to its subtlety of flavors and superior desserts.  High end dishes in a warm and casual environment.


The duck heart amuse bouche
Crispy BBQ duck and foie gras torchon in a steam bao bun with sake soy glaze and micro watercress
Cornish game hen with vegetable makis, tari sauce, and yucca.  Oh, and fries!

This restaurant, specializing in nuevo latino cuisine, was the surprise hit of this trip. How good was this place?  So good, that even my mother couldn’t stop raving about it.  So good that I wanted to go back for one more dinner before I left town (Unfortunately, they were closed).  I’m pretty confident that those duck heart starters and the morado (purple corn) sauce are going to end up being one of my Top 10 Tastes for 2014.  Crazy good!

21 thoughts on “January 4, 2013: The Montreal Restaurant Countdown!

  1. Then, I moved to Vancouver (and, later, visited Japan) and discovered how truly great sushi could be. On subsequent visits to Montreal, I returned to some of my old haunts and discovered the truth: sushi in Montreal pales in comparison.

    I’ve had a similar journey, culminating with sushi experiences in Honolulu and Tokyo, except now I’m in Chicagoland. I don’t go to Tokyo much anymore, so I have to get my really good sushi when I visit Vancouver, Las Vegas (sic), or San Diego.

    That pork belly at Boullion Bilk looked interesting…salt aside, what did you think of it?

  2. Glad the list got better! It’s so disappointing when you get a bad meal out because you’ve wasted the money and the time and you feel like you’ve been cheated out of your dinner. Took my mom out for Christmas dinner and picked a place out of the holiday list in the paper but it was awful. They were carving turkey but to get dressing you had to get turkey w/dressing off the buffet table and they were these little wet softballs of bread with corn and sweet peppers and no seasoning and that turkey was straight out of a tv dinner. Ick.

  3. I think once you’ve traveled very much and had lots of dining experience in other places, what you used to regard as great gets diminished somewhat in comparison. It doesn’t help that it seems (and in my limited experience), Vancouver has some mighty fine eateries!

    I will agree that there’s little more gross that oily, moist breading on a cutlet. It’s interesting that one of the best chicken cutlets I’ve ever had was in the cafe at the guest house where we stayed in Katmandu, Nepal. So well done that I ordered it several times while I was there. I’ve never had anything similar to it anywhere since. I will acknowledge that it may have had something to do with the atmosphere, though!

    This is the cafe – we would ALWAYS sit at the table in the foreground (empty in the picture). I loved that place, so cool!

  4. Humm, well, I guess I’ll take a #3 to go…

    After all your trips to Tokyo, and how much you enjoy their food, I’m surprised you ever find anything outside of Japan that taste comparable to you.

  5. …so, no poutine for you? I am not as an adventurous eater as you are. I’ve never eaten raw meat, and I would not try it now that I’m in the middle years of my life. My loss, but, I’m not that brave.

    Just an FYI for all Stargate fans: I do not know if this is industry wide, but, at least in Vancouver, one particular hotel chain has decided to make it nearly impossible for individuals to run independent conventions. They not only expect the individual or group of people to prove they have a great credit rating to cover the price of unfilled hotel rooms, but they also want a huge advance of tens of thousands of dollars to cover any expenses. Thus, unless the group of people have a huge down payment, they will not be able to afford to offer a convention. This, of course, means all science fiction cons, including Stargate. I learned this through the individuals responsible for bringing us the very successful Gatecon conventions. The only way to change this would be for fans to send messages to various hotel chains, especially the Sheraton and the Hilton, about your feelings about these changes. Of course, they are businesses, and they need to make a profit, but this change is unreasonable.

    Thank you, Joe, for permitting me to share this with the fans.

    Patricia Stewart-Bertrand

  6. If the food is half as good as it looks, and a quarter as good as you describe it, then it sounds worth making a trip just to take a tour of those places. The money I could find, the time… ah well. Thanks for the roundup and looking forward to the rest of the year and its further culinary adventures.

  7. The food at Mezcla looks good, although I have no idea what “nuevo latino” is.:) Glad you enjoyed, Joecito!

    @Patricia Stewart-Bertrand: That just sucks. As far as I know, it’s not going on in Florida. Away Mission is having a convention next April at the Hilton in Tampa and I haven’t heard anything like what you’re telling us. It seems stupid, considering how well Hilton does in Vegas for the Star Trek conventions, no? That said, I can’t wait till April, I FINALLY get to meet Captain Kirk. 🙂

    @Ponytail and anybody else that would like to see my gorgeous grandson at his first birthday party:

  8. I must be feeling the effects of the flu, not much of the food looks good except the hen and the smoked meat.

    I’m trying to go back to food tracking, counting every morsel using an online site. 1400 to 1600 daily DASH eating plan, loosely. Yesterday I wasn’t hungry, but this morning breakfast wasn’t filling. Which is why I’m surprised more of the photos of tasty stuff did not appeal. Hmmm.

    Do you ever pay attention to your daily caloric intake? Or stuff like sodium levels? Do you think you;ll ever need to so, or are you one of the lucky ones?

  9. Hey Joe

    Can you tell me about bao buns? I seen you talking about about them before, but, they just look like half cooked dough. They’re white and have no sign of baking.


  10. @ Deni – Michael is a doll! He has such great, soft features, and a wonderful smile. Look at all those pretty teeth! He looks like one you’d grab up and sqeeze and smooch kisses under his neck. Glad he had a good time.

  11. All look way more delicious than anything I’ve had lately. I’m toasty in my home but all this talk of cold temps is making me hungry, I could go for lobster and squash cavetelli.

    Just enjoyed the 2000 film Supernova, it is a hoot; James Spader is so sexy that he gets Angela Bassett pregnant while outracing a supersonic blast and traveling at hyperspeed in an escape pod; an escape pod of love. LDP does hand stand push ups and the crew is constantly nekkid.

  12. Food – as usual – looks wonderful (‘cept for the Pepto pink stuff). That’s about it. For some reason I have nothing much to say these days. I must have talked myself out in 2013. 😛


  13. Ça prend de la moutarde avec le creton, sinon ça manque de goût.

    Je ne mangerais pas de la truite dans un restaurant, celle que je fais à la maison et bien meilleure (comme mes pétoncles de ce midi… mmmm…)

    C’est le bon temps pour partir de Montréal, y’a du verglas qui s’en vient, beurk…

  14. Aww, what a cutie Deni, could just squeeze him,thanks for sharing,,now I want cake..
    and p.s. squeeze Capt Kirk for me too.!

  15. I’m not sure how you manage to eat such a verity of food. Do you ever have to ask what you’re supposed to eat and what you’re supposed to leave on the plate? I know bones are an obvious ‘leave’, but some of the other stuff you have pictured would leave me confused.

  16. I’ve just had an epiphany…of sorts.

    It seems that cumin combined with diced onions smells a bit…’guffy’ (as my granny used to say). You know the smell…something like that pit odor a guy has after a hard day’s work. Ya know…’guffy’. Which is totally different from ‘funk’ – that horrid smell of long-unwashed bodies and – oddly enough – the contents of my cheese drawer with its variety of aromas from bleu cheese, feta, and sharp Italians all mingling together. It’s like I have tramps and teamsters living right in my fridge!!! 😛


  17. Hi Joe. You’ve been visiting a lot of restaurant, so you probably know your chefs. Did Masterchef Canada chose great chefs for their show, or you would have chosen other ones? I’m disapointed not to see a chef from Montreal. I thought we did have great chefs here in the belle province.

  18. Bonjour Joe,
    Je suis bien content d’avoir lu ta revue des restaurants de Montréal et c’est tout à fait exact dans le cas du Chao Phraya. Il y a d’ailleurs très peu de restaurants Thaïe ici, sûrement à cause du peu d’immigrants thaïlandais… Par contre, nous en avons trouvé un très intéressant au Quartier Dix30 sur la rive-sud dont le chef est originaire de Bangkok. Dans le même créneau, il y a d’excellents restaurants indiens sur la rue Jean-Talon près de la rue l’Acadie.
    Ma seule remarque ou divergence d’opinion, concernant tes choix de resto selon mon humble avis, c’est pour le smoked meat : D’accord Pete est renommé et fait d’excellents smoked meat mais, selon moi, la référence c’est Swartz malgré l’absence d’ambiance. Malgré qu’il soit maintenant la propriété de Céline et son célèbre mari, le restaurant a gardé son look original.
    J’ai bien l’intention d’essayer les “400 coups” dont j’avais eu d’excellents commentaires de la part d’amis qui y avaient été ravis.
    Comme tu le mentionnais, tu n’as pas été au Pied de cochon mais je te suggère d’essayer la cabane à sucre au Pied de cochon… C’est renversant! Mais réserve longtemps d’avance… Si tu désires d’autres suggestions de restaurants pour ton prochain séjour, n’hésite pas à m’en faire part.
    Bonne année 2014 et bon succès!

  19. Not happening here either. Perhaps the hotels in Vancouver had bad experiences and loss of income. Generally rules and policies are made because of a negative experience. Or perhaps they were promised things that the convention was not able to fulfill–and they said no to another group who would have been more profitable to them. Moody Gardens were extraordinarily accommodating for 3 days and we had the entire hotel. It is a huge space. As with any business, you have to get someone to give you an opportunity and then you have to prove you can delivery. If you can prove you can deliver what you say, then you start building a credible reputation. The same holds true if you are planning a wedding with a reception at a hotel. The same held true doing Patrick’s school’s yearly autism gala. It’s a simple business model. You have to spend money to make money, too. Sounds like you only got one side of the story from the convention people instead of talking to the hotels about why these policies exist now.

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